Rare gold coin with Nero’s face found in Jerusalem

Jerusalem, September 16, 2016

An
exceptionally rare gold coin emblazoned with the face
of the Roman Emperor Nero dating back to around A.D.
60 has been discovered by archaeologists working on
excavations on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

The coin, which archaeologists say most likely came from a
Jewish home, was found in the ruins of wealthy villas from
the first century A.D. and according to the archaeologist
Shimon Gibson “belonged to the priestly and
aristocratic quarter located in the Upper City of
Jerusalem”.

Gibson, who is an adjunct professor at the University of
North Carolina at Charlotte and part of the team carrying
out the excavations, said: “The coin is exceptional
because this is the first time that a coin of this kind
has turned up in Jerusalem in a scientific dig. Coins of
this type are usually only found in private collections,
where we don’t have clear evidence as to place of
origin.”

Emperor Nero ruled from A.D. 54 to 68, and is renowned for
his persecution of Christians. The coin shows his face in
profile, surrounded by the inscription “NERO CAESAR
AVG IMP.”

On the back of the coin there is an oak wreath and the
inscriptions “EX S C” and “PONTIF MAX TR P
III.”

According to archaeologists, these inscriptions date the
coin’s creation to either A.D. 56 or A.D. 57.

Gibson added of other discoveries: “Finds include the
well-preserved rooms of a very large mansion, a Jewish
ritual pool (mikveh) and a bathroom, both with their
ceilings intact.”

The mansion would have been destroyed by Titus and the
Roman legions, when Jerusalem was razed to the ground in
A.D. 70.

“It’s a valuable piece of personal property and
wouldn’t have been cast away like rubbish or casually
dropped,” said Gibson of the coin. “It’s
conceivable that it ended up outside these structures in
the chaos that happened as this area was destroyed.”

Mount Zion is located just outside the Old City’s
walls in Jerusalem, near the Jewish and Christian
quarters.

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